Sean Hannity Facing ‘Possible Prison Time for Witness Tampering’?

“BREAKING: Fox News Freaking Out As Sean Hannity Faces Possible Prison Time For Witness Tampering,” a headline posted last week claims on the site New Century Times.

“It looks like Hannity may have committed a crime that could quite possibly net him a nice, round twenty years in federal prison,” the article claims. It continues:

A recent broadcast of his show found Mr. Hannity recommending to his viewers, along with any potential witnesses in the Russian conspiracy investigation, that they refuse to comply with Robert Mueller’s requests from the special counsel, and instead to destroy evidence that Mueller asks for with acid, hammers, and a whole lot of smashing and deleting.

What’s the truth?

As readers of TWS Fact Check may have surmised, Hannity is not currently facing “possible prison time for witness tampering.”

During an opening monologue last week, Hannity discussed the Mueller investigation’s “[demand] that witnesses turn in their phones … to review all of their electronic communications.”

The blog post obfuscates the fact that Hannity was making an allusion to an FBI report from July 2016 which revealed that Clinton aides had broken Clinton’s mobile phones with a hammer and snapped several “in half.” Hannity also mentions “BleachBit” in reference to Clinton aides’ use of the BleachBit software to delete messages. During the monologue he suggests disposing of SIM cards, a tactic also employed by Clinton aides.

Here’s what Hannity said on his program Wednesday:

If I advise them to follow Hillary Clinton’s lead, delete all your emails and then acid-wash the emails and hard drives on the new phones, then take your phones and bash them with a hammer into little itsy-bitsy pieces, use BleachBit, remove the SIM cards, and then take the pieces and hand it over to Robert Mueller and say, Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is equal justice under the law. How do you think that would work out for everybody who Mueller is demanding their phones of tonight? Now I’m certain the result would not be the same as Hillary’s.

New Century Times references a segment on MSNBC in which panelists seriously discussed Hannity’s suggestions, with host Ari Mebler saying that “If anyone actually does what Sean Hannity says there, they’d be committing a crime.” (The irony of Mebler’s statement is not lost on TWS Fact Check.)

During the same program on Fox News, Hannity makes it clear that he is not seriously suggesting people destroy their phones and emails. “Mueller wants everyone’s cell phones,” Hannity said on Wednesday, “My advice to them, not really, kidding, bad advice, would be follow Hillary’s, you know, lead.”

The misinformation stemmed from a primary news-network and trickled down to an obscure blog that expanded the falsehoods into “facing prison” claims. Remember, context is key.

If you have questions about this fact check, or would like to submit a request for another fact check, email Holmes Lybrand at or the Weekly Standard at For details on TWS Fact Check, see our explainer here.

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